Some of the first good news of 2020 has been the return of sports. The NBA has been continuing its playoffs with success in Orlando. European soccer leagues were able to conclude their long-delayed seasons. MLB is getting by (so far) with some disruptions at ballparks all over the United States.

Now, the NFL is returning and people across the nation — and even the world — will get to watch the big games. Unfortunately, it remains hard to get together with friends and families to enjoy Sundays together. Since this is one of best parts of the experience, you might feel like you’re missing out.

Still, there are ways to make the best of it by making things digital. It may sound funny, but a virtual tailgate really can be fun. After all, people are doing video conference meetings, Facetime parties, and even Zoom weddings. Why not game day virtual get-togethers? If you want to give it a try as the players get back on the field in the coming weeks, the following is just about everything you need for the best virtual tailgates.

1. Kickoff Time

A typical tailgate is all about showing up early and raring to go. This same logic should apply to your virtual tailgate. In fact, it can even be a bit more convenient as you won’t need to drive anywhere. This means that you probably don’t need to get started quite so early. You should still be ready well before kickoff, but beginning the festivities about an hour before the first whistle is probably enough time. Get everybody set up on Zoom or another video meeting service (and make sure they check their connection) and start telling jokes, talking trash, and (digitally) clinking your glasses together with as many fans as you can — no matter where they’re located.

2. Food and Drinks

After the camaraderie, the best part of tailgating is the food and drinks. This is another area where you might find some benefits by staying home and doing things digitally. Tailgating in a cold parking lot limits your options. At home, however, you can cook up — or even order — anything your heart desires. The only key here is trying to get everyone on the same page. The menu doesn’t have to be 100% aligned, but it will detract from the shared experience if some people are crushing burgers, others are scarfing down pepperoni pizza, and someone else is having a boring salad. At least for the first time out, try to all prepare the same main dish and get similar munchies. The same goes for beers or cocktails. It will just make everything that much more fun.

3. Sync Your Screens

If everyone is together — or even in the stadium — it goes without saying that you will all be watching the same game. If you are apart in different homes, however, it’s possible you will be watching different broadcasts or streams. The best solution is to get everyone to watch NFL games live on the same cable provider and the same network. Not only will this make sure that you are all aligned and ready to cheer at the exact moment they cross the goal line, but it will ensure you have reliable service from a quality provider rather than risking it with a stream that drops out or lags behind during a key play.

Making Your Virtual Tailgate Fan-tastic

This year, nothing is exactly normal. We can’t just cry about it though. It’s time to adapt and adjust. This applies to so many areas — and why not sports? There is no need to enjoy your favorite games in isolation. All you need is a bit of motivation to get a virtual tailgate off the ground.

Just organize the logistics and set the kickoff time. Get the right snacks that everyone can enjoy. And make sure you all have the same viewing configuration so that it really is a shared experience.

If you get all this right, there really isn’t much more to it. Just sit back, throw on your favorite jersey, and root root root for the home team.

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